When I was the first time in China in the beginning of 1990s I visited once a home for elderly people. It was a big facility with several multi-storey buildings. Every resident paid monthly a remarkable amount for their care compared with the monthly income of Chinese people in general.
As we were going around the facility I found there was a terrible contradiction between the room, in which the residents practised their religion and in what kind of rooms they had to do their everyday chores.
In the kitchen there was several single cooking plates on a shabby concrete counter, residents had a locker of the size of a shoe box, without cooling, to keep their foodstuff, and there was a washbasin fixed on the wall to wash the dishes. It had only cold water.
I was angry, when I thought about the monthly fee that every resident paid for their care, and how little the owner of the facility had invested to build proper common rooms for the residents.
On the other hand, if the residents had got used to work like this, who was I to tell, how one should live.
When I studied in Germany my fellow student came back from Bangladesh. It was the time when a Bangladeshi woman had written a book criticizing Islam, and as a consequence had to flee to Sweden.
My friend told me, what was Bangladeshi people in general thinking about the matter. She agreed with them.
She said to me that the author was stupid when she exposed herself in such a way to danger, so that she had to flee to another country. She was thinking that the position of women in Bangladesh was conditioned by religion. It was a part of their culture.
I could not believe my ears. This was said by a person, who was born in a democracy, where there is theoretically gender equality. Apparently she took her position for granted and completely forgot that women’s position in Europe has not always been as good as it is today. In order to achieve gender equality, brave women had to stand up and speak out. They had to question the existing conventions and norms of the society and fight for their rights.
It is as easy for a person in the East to immerse oneself in religious practices as it is for western people to nestle in their small bourgeois circles and let other people take care of their own problems.
Last week I was watching videos of a Syrian woman psychiatrist, Wafa Sultan (وفاء سلطان), who is living in America. In the videos she gives powerful testimony against Islam.
She tells that only being able to walk alone on the streets without being called a whore is a big relief for her. Or that she can chat with her male neighbour without being accused for adultery. Or that she can officially be the guardian of her own children.
Wafa Sultan feels that she is privileged because of these basic rights. She wants that every woman throughout the Muslim world living under the Sharia law can enjoy these rights.
The greatest part of the women living in the Islamic world are so indoctrinated in their situation that they don’t even see the prison, in which they are living. They are suffering, but they think that dominance of men is like a law of nature that cannot be changed.
Wafa Sultan lived 30 years under Sharia law in Syria. She begun to question the teachings of Islam after she moved to America and learned to know a different reality. Only then she had comparison to that what she had experienced and sawn in her mother country. Wafa Sultan says that it is the worst kind of slavery when people think they are free, but in reality live in a prison.
The Islamic countries have been closed societies for 1400 years. Not until the Internet era has the wall begun to crumble. The Internet is piercing the last foul abscesses in the world.
It is said that Internet played also an important role in the collapse of the former Soviet-Union. It was impossible for the leading elite to fool people when the society had open communication. All man-made structures that are aiming to oppress and enslave people are doomed to collapse.
For the first time, Islam is in a situation when it is seriously challenged. Wafa Sultan says that it is not a question of clash of religions or cultures. It is a battle of spirits: a clash between the medieval mindset and the modern rational and humane mindset.
In my opinion this battle of spirits is important for both sides. In the best case both sides benefit from it. Muslims gain freedom and people in the West learn to appreciate the divine heritage that our ancestors have left to us.
It requires that the Westerners are ready to defend the values, on which the Western societies are built. We cannot bargain over democracy and rule of law, freedom (of speech) or respect of human value and human rights.
Muslims see themselves as victims and search cause for their problems from the outside world. I think we should not blame them for that. We should see them as they are: traumatized persons, who find it more or less difficult to integrate into the society. They need first and foremost mental support.
In Finland there is an association that gives peer-support for victims of religions. It is for people that have become so traumatized in their religious communities that it makes a constructive co-operation with other people almost impossible. At its worst life can be kill-or-be-killed – struggle for survival.
Our purpose is to help people become the best version of themselves. The first step in this development is that people get rid of their victim mentality. After that they are ready to take responsibility of their actions and omissions and they are ready to activate their inner powers.
Wafa Sultan is trying to expand the consciousness of Muslims and help them see another reality. What happens, when people leave Islam and there is no value-system to grasp? What should they do, when they find themselves in a vacuum, where it is difficult to proceed?
When I became handicapped 37 years ago I found myself in a kind of vacuum. At first I tried to fight tooth and nail to stick with that what was left of my life before my disability. The reality knocked me out of the skies again and again.
One day I realized that a new life had unfolded around me. I had not even notized it. I only needed to detect it and begin to improve my life from the starting point that I had.
Earth has no place where there is a vacuum or emptiness. There is only people, who live disconnected from God and from each other. A person, who is guided by his/her ego and who’s values are in the outside world, lives in fact without values. When external values vanish, there is nothing left, and one may find him- or herself in a vacuum.
But that vacuum is filled very rapidly when people look into their hearts and let their inner navigator (Holy Spirit, common sense) lead themselves. Jesus says:
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you into all truth. He will not speak his own words, but he will speak only what he hears.” (John 16:13)
Erkki Toivanen: Hyödylliset idiootit islamismin asialla (Useful Idiots Promoting Islam, in Finnish)
Uskontojen uhrien tuki (UUT) ry (Peer-Support for Victims of Religions)
Videos:Al Jazeera: Wafa Sultan discussion on Muslim belief and clash of civilizations
Wafa Sultan: Interview before the trial of Geert Wilders in October 2010
Wafa Sultan: Women in Islam
Wafa Sultan: Islam & Mental Illness BBC World: The Killing of Farkhunda Pat Condell: Europe’s Betrayal of Women Saudi Cleric: “We Arabs are backward, but we don’t know it.” Ann Barnhardt: Islamic Sexuality – A Survey Of Evil David Duke: Multiculturalism in Europe: Who is Behind It?